NASHVILLE, Aug. 9 (UPI) -- Tennessee is outlawing keeping turtles as pets in the state because they can harbor deadly bacteria, including salmonella, officials said.
The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency announced it will not issue permits for pet stores to sell turtles or for people to own them, making it illegal to keep turtles as pets in the state.
"It's common sense," Walter Cook, captive wildlife coordinator for the TWRA, told The (Nashville) Tennessean.
"It's a public health concern and we have to be responsible," he said.
The association isn't interested in prosecuting anyone who already has turtles as pets, Cook said, but added he would like to see them donate their animals to one of Tennessee's several wildlife education facilities, where the reptiles can be kept in a closed habitat to reduce the risk of spreading the deadly bacteria.
"We just don't want anybody to get sick."